A story for every victim

Lester Scott Virgil, 45

Lester Scott Virgil, a 45-year-old black man, was fatally shot Friday, Aug. 5, in the 1600 block of West 110th Street, in Westmont, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records. 

Virgil, an operations supervisor at Los Angeles International Airport, was at a friend's house about 5:44 p.m. watching his son do basketball drills. That's when a car pulled up, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. John Corina said, and a black man in his 20s wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt got out of the passenger seat and began shooting. Children and adults went running, and the gunman got back in the car, which was driven away. 

Lester Virgil, who was sitting on the porch, was struck multiple times in the upper torso, and was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:50 p.m., according to coroner’s records. No one else was injured. 

His wife, Trekesha “Kesha” Virgil, arrived at the home moments later to pick up her son. 

Lester Virgil was supposed to drop off their son that afternoon so the 12-year-old could practice for a tournament the next day. But Lester Virgil got to talking with the other father, Kesha Virgil said, and never left. When she got off work, he told her to come by.

“The wife called me about 15 minutes later and said, ‘You’ve got to get here right away. Something bad’s happened. He’s been shot,’” Kesha Virgil said. 

“I slammed on the gas and thought, ‘Oh my God.’ I was in a rage, you know? And by the time I get there, the ambulance is leaving, and no one’s inside. And I can remember my son’s face as he was running toward me, saying, ‘Mom, they shot my dad, they shot my dad.’”

Life has been a blur since, Kesha Virgil said, but she's found some comfort from friends and coworkers who have deluged the family with support, setting up fundraising accounts to help with expenses and her son’s future education

“When you read the comments on his Gofundme account, you get a glimpse of the kind of man he was,” said Richard Chong, chief of airport operations at LAX. “This is a huge loss to LAX and his family.”

Virgil’s main job was to work closely with contractors doing construction in and around the airport to ensure they could do their work without blocking traffic, Chong said.

His stocky build and booming voice gave him a commanding presence, Chong said, “but at the same time, he was very cordial and respectful. Even though he sometimes had to deliver bad news, he did it in a way that made sense to the contractors. He had a knack for building bridges. That’s why people gravitated to him, because they felt a bond with him.”

Virgil graduated from Lynwood High School. He was a talented artist, Kesha Virgil said, and hoped to get an art degree, but when he became a father at 18, he went to work.

She met him in 1999, when they were working for an air freight company at LAX. His two daughters, now in their 20s, were little girls then, she said, and one of the reasons she fell in love. 

“He could always say something to make me laugh, but then I saw that he cooked and he cleaned, and he just had this overall presence with his daughters,” she said. “It was really attractive. I thought, ‘Wow. This is a family man.’”

The couple were supposed to celebrate their wedding anniversary on Aug. 20 with a cruise to Mexico. Instead, Kesha Virgil spent the day preparing for her husband’s funeral, which will be held Friday in Inglewood.  

“It’s just so unreal,” she said. “It took me until that Saturday, when the funeral home came to get his clothing, to actually realize this was not a dream.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.  

Photo: Lester Scott Virgil during a family outing in Marina Del Rey in April.  Credit: Kesha Virgil

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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